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History of Foster Township, Madison County, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser


Foster Township (Township 6, Range 9) is located in the northwestern portion of the county, bounded on the north by Jersey and Macoupin Counties, east by Moro, south by Wood River, and west by Godfrey Townships. The west and east forks of the Wood River run through this township.

When some of the earliest settlers arrived in Foster Township, there were already several small log cabins in the southern part of the township, which had been deserted by hardy pioneers who moved on into deeper wilderness. Joseph S. Reynolds entered 71 acres in section 33 on October 11, 1814. He lived there until about 1822, when he moved to Godfrey Township, and later to Greene County.

Orman Beeman made some improvements on section 28, in 1816. He remained there until 1828.

Mr. Honeycutt located on a small branch of the west for of the Wood River, which has ever since been known as Honeycutt Creek. At about the same time, James Dabbs settled on another branch, a mile northwest from Honeycutt, which has since been known as Dabbs’ Creek. He and Honeycutt may have left at about the same time.

An old lady known as “Granny McAfee” settled on section 28 in 1816. She and her family remained there 4 or 5 years, and then moved to Greene County.

William R. Rhodes entered and settled in 1818 or 1819, and then sold to Joshua Wood in 1821. On October 11, 1820, there were four more land entries made by Lorenzo Edwards, Daniel Wagoner, William W. Gallop, and Jacob Deck. William Edwards entered the east half of section 33. He lived there a short time. Wagoner entered 160 acres in section 35. This settlement was made on the Culp place. He was a single man, and remained there for a short period. William W. Gallop entered the east half of section 31. It is not known if he ever lived there. Jacob Deck entered 160 acres in section 35, and was the first permanent settler in the township. John and Isaac, brothers of Jacob Deck, were also early settlers in the neighborhood.

Green W. Short, a native of Tennessee, came to Illinois in the Fall of 1818, and located in the Wood River settlement, where he lived for 2 years. He then purchased the claim of Abram Sells on section 34, where he remained until his death. He had seven children. Perry W. Short, his son, lived on the old homestead. Perry was born there in 1826.

James Dooling was another early settler. He was a native of Ireland, and left there in April 1818. He landed in New York City in July, and came directly to Madison County, arriving at Edwardsville in the Fall of 1818. In the Spring of 1819, he moved with his family to Greene County, where he lived until the Spring of 1821, when he purchased a small farm of George Wood in section 34 in Foster Township. He later entered 80 acres adjoining his purchase. Mr. Dooling continued to live there until his death in 1845. He had 6 children, 4 of whom were still living in 1882 – Edmund, Elizabeth (widow of Christopher Coyne), Catharine (wife of John S. Titchenal), and John in Grundy County. Edmund Dooling was born in Foster Township on October 4, 1824, and always lived on the old homestead. He was elected to the board of supervisors several times.

Oliver Foster was a native of New Hampshire, and married a Massachusetts lady. They immigrated to Illinois, and settled in Alton in January 1819. The moved to Foster Township in 1825, making his home one mile north of the village of Fosterburg, in section 11. Mr. Foster entered the land upon which he lived. It had been previously improved, however, by a squatter named Blackburn. The ruins of the log cabin, which had been partially destroyed by fire, could be seen for some time after their arrival. Mr. Foster lived on this land until his death in 1855. He had ten children, with five living in 1882 – Oliver P., Alonzo, Aurora B. (wife of Jonathan L. Woods), James Monroe, and Rose V. (widow of Richard Jenkinson). The township and village of Fosterburg were named after Oliver P. Foster.

William E. Hill, a native of Kentucky, immigrated to Illinois in the Spring of 1830. He stopped one summer in St. Clair County, then entered and settled on 160 acres in section 26 of Foster Township.

John Vannatta, a native of New Jerse4y, settled on section 21 in 1832. He was still living there in 1882.

Joseph Sherfy was a native of Tennessee, and settled in Wood River Township in 1823 for two years. He moved to Missouri, remaining there until 1834, when he returned to Foster Township to section 16. When he dug the cellar for his home, he found an old burying ground. Some of the bones were still almost perfect, and seemed much larger than those of our race.

Richard Jones, another old settler, was a native of Tennessee. He came to Illinois in 1834, living part of his time in Foster Township, and dying there. His son, James Jones, was still living in 1882.

William Dillon, a native of Ohio, located within a mile of the village of Fosterburg on section 23, where he entered land. His brother, John D. Dillon, settled in the township in 1837. John had the first blacksmith shop in the township. It was located on section 23. His wife, Nancy Preuitt, is a daughter of Solomon Preuitt.

George Wood, the father of Joshua Wood, entered land in the northeast quarter of section 34, in about 1821. He was a carpenter by trade.

Joshua Wood settled in the township on section 28, where he resided until his death on November 11, 1865 at the age of 57. He had 10 children. His wife was the daughter of James Huston, who came to Alton on May 22, 1819. In the Fall of the same year, he moved into Wood River Township, on the place owned by Captain Abel Moore, where he lived for about 3 years, then entered land in section 32. He lived there until the Fall of 1835, when he moved near Shipman, where he died November 12, 1846. He had 10 children, of which only two were alive in 1882 – Sarah (widow of Joshua Wood), and Elizabeth (wife of George N. Sapping).

Other early settlers of Foster Township include the Nichols, John Young, Alexander Hart, James Drennen, William and Mark Crowder, William England, Samuel S. Wilson, David Hill, Asa Brooks, Alford Allford, Ransom Chandler, Thomas Eaton, James Reading, the Titchenals, David Rodden, Mr. Nelson, David Jones, Hugh Jones, and James Bevill. Mrs. Susannah Thomspon is a daughter of Ransom Chandler, and came to this county in 1839. Her first husband, Eldred Foster, was born in Madison County in 1821. Jacob Thompson, her second husband, was from Ohio, and came here in 1834. Hazel Luman, residing on section 25, came here from Kentucky in 1828. His wife, whose maiden name was Williams, was born in this county in 1833. Mrs. Nancy Cavault, formerly the wife of John Deck, became a resident of Madison County in 1817. She later married Abraham Cavault.

The first graveyard in Foster Township was located on the Jacob Deck homestead. Next was the Short graveyard, which was originally named “Delmont.” Mrs. Jacob Deck Jr., a daughter of Green W. Short, was the first buried there. Members of the Wood family are also buried in the old part of the cemetery.

There were 3 attempts made at building mills in this township – the first being erected by Samuel and William Dillon, on section 23, in 1834. It was a sawmill. The second was to be a flour mill, but it was partially completed when it was destroyed by fire. Thomas Titchenal operated a saw mill.

The first post office was established a half mile north of the village of Fosterburg on the Springfield Road. John Nichols was the first post master.

There is an abundance of coal under Foster Township, and several mines were opened. John Hill, William Challingsworth, and John Hankhaus all located on section 26 and worked the coal mine with horsepower.

The First Schools
The first school was taught in a log house built on Perry W. Short’s place, on section 34, in 1832. It was used for both school and church purposes. The earliest Sunday School was organized in it. The logs of this house were moved from there and used in the construction of J. M. Cooper’s residence.

The First Churches
The old Antioch Church was the first house of worship in Foster Township. It was a log structure, erected in the latter part of 1832. Later there was a frame church erected at the same place, which was destroyed by fire in 1868.

The Village of Fosterburg
The village of Fosterburg was laid out by Oliver P. Foster on section 14. The plat was recorded on October 12, 1857. It was first called “Foster,” but when application for a post office was made in 1858, it was found that there was another office of the same name, so the “burg” was attached. To read more on the history of Fosterburg, please click here.


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